Lean manufacturing relies on many tools, and the 5S is one that is widely used. Basically, it optimizes the work environment and lays the foundation for continuous improvement. A 5S event just follows the 5s in a step-by-step fashing, meaning the entire event can be completed in a workweek (one day for each step).
Below are the steps involved in the 5S event, which are Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize and Sustain.
Sorting is about categorizing all the items in the workplace into those that are needed and those that aren’t. The point is to remove anything that can be considered unnecessary clutter and make the workplace cleaner and more efficient.
Straightening involves making the workplace more organized by placing the needed items where they can be easily found. Those which are used frequently can be placed closer to the workstation to add another layer of organization. This will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to locate them, which speeds up productivity.
Sweeping is about making the workplace cleaner. This means every workspace needs to be swept, mopped, and scrubbed. If safety signs have faded, they need to be repainted, so it is also about making the work area safer as well. In the long term, it is believed that the workers will be happier and more productive working in a cleaner and safer environment.
On top of that, everyone will know that it is their job to keep it clean. This will give birth to a new habit that will make cleanliness sustainable in the long run.
Everything that contributed to the efficiency of the workplace needs to be standardized. Otherwise, all the hard work everyone put in will eventually be for naught. Any idea that went into improving the workplace needs to be documented and that documentation needs to be shared with everyone in the organization. There also needs to be consistency between standardized procedures so that everyone in the organization can work towards keeping things going for the long term regardless of department.
For the results to be sustainable indefinitely, some key members of senior management need to get involved. They need to take charge of the process to ensure that people are maintaining all the improvements made to the workplace. This means 5S should be embedded in the organization’s management philosophy. And departments need to evaluate themselves on how well their employees are contributing towards the sustainability of the 5S initiatives.
There is a saying that old habits die hard, meaning people can easily return to former bad habits. There is a need to ensure that 5S initiatives are understood by every employee as an ongoing endeavor and considered as the organization’s culture moving forward.
An organized workplace is one that is safe and productive. A 5S event outlines the steps to get the workplace to be the epitome of efficiency. Furthermore, it sets in place procedures that will keep it that way for the foreseeable future. It is an event that any Lean-thinking organization should carry out.
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